Chris Fox: Ignite Digi
Local company set to donate 10,000 face shields to frontline health workers
Australia is struggling to compete with the demands COVID-19 is putting on the resources of the health sector. In this series of articles, we look at Tasmanian businesses using their production capabilities to produce resources like personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser for health workers and the local community.
Hobart-based manufacturer Ignite Digi is one of many Tasmanian businesses who have dedicated their resources to produce PPE for Tasmanian health workers.
Normally, Ignite Digi specialise in making camera and gimbal accessories for the film and TV market, which they ship around the world. Most of the large-scale productions that are happening in Hollywood and Europe have had Ignite Digi parts on their productions at some stage.
Ignite Digi Co-Founder Chris Fox says Coronavirus has had a significant effect on the film industry as a whole.
“We found basically within a week or so, all of our customers became unemployed” he said.
“And that’s had a significant effect on our business, our sales plummeted to near-on zero so as a result we’re trying to redirect our efforts and energy to doing something for our local community because we’ve got this advanced manufacturing capability.”
“One of the first products we’re trying to produce is a face shield which we’ll be distributing to medical workers.”
“The face shield that we’re producing is a simple headband with a clear visor which drops down over your face. The intent of that is that it would go over the mask the medical worker would be wearing, or over their glasses just to provide protection from droplets or vapor when a person sneezes in their vicinity. It provides a physical barrier between the medical worker and the patient.”
Ignite Digi, together with fellow Hobart-based manufacturer Lightning Protection International, produced a few prototype face shields and provided them to the Royal Hobart Hospital to be tested by hospital staff.
Chris says following feedback from hospital staff, modifications were made to better suit staff needs and now Ignite Digi is ready to go into production.
“We’ve taken a product, innovated it and we’re trying to produce it on a large scale, locally here in Hobart,” said Chris.
“The face shield is a fairly simple device but we are able to produce the product en-mass.”
“Just after Easter we’ll be going into full-scale production were we’ll be producing in the order of 100 units an hour.”
“These devices are in short supply and we’re able to produce these on a scale which hopefully can make an impact in the community.”
Ignite Digi are planning to donate 10,000 face shields to frontline health workers.
“From there, hopefully people will see we can manufacture products that are useful in the medical industry and we’ll be able to break into a new market and provide parts to our medical workers on the frontline,” Chris said.
“If you don’t innovate, your business will not survive. So we have to diversify and we have to work on something that has got practical significance to the people in our community and practical significance to the issue that we are facing globally at the moment. We’ve had a look at what our capability is and how we can help, and we have some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment [in Tasmania] and we want to redeploy those assets to work on products and projects that help our local community.”
Chris says Ignite Digi has other products in the pipeline, including prototype designs for face masks and a design for a respirator.
“We have the capacity in Tasmania to produce lots of equipment that’s needed on the frontline. Just in the period that we’ve been looking at diversifying, we’ve been in touch with other companies, from electronics design and injection moulding, to other CNC manufacturing organisations and potentially, we have the opportunity to pull together with a very smart community to have a significant impact on a problem we are facing here in Tasmania.”